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Council Tax Benefits Changes

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4:36pm 12th December 2012

There is a warning that changes to council tax benefits could cost Cornwall's poorest families more than nine hundred pounds a year.

It comes after officials backed plans for every household in the Duchy to pay at least 25 percent of its bill.

At the moment, some people on low incomes do not pay any council tax at all.

It is happening because the council will get less money from government, as part of its welfare shake-up.

51 year-old Phillip Johns from Camborne suffers from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or ME. He said he relies on the handouts: "It's very hard, because I'm on a special diet so I have to buy special stuff. You know, I have to work out how much money I've got for food after I've paid for electric, gas, TV licence, the lot. You know, you haven't got anything left, so it's really going to hit hard.

"I'm an ME sufferer, and I get very tired. I get seventy-one pounds a week and I've got a hard job living now. I'll be homeless and I just can't afford it. A single person living on seventy-one pounds a week is not enough. No, I find it hard now, so that's going to be even worse."

Writing on his blog, Alex Folkes, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Launceston Central, said: "This will, in my view, force many more families into the arms of our foodbanks. It is also likely to force larger families out of areas with higher property prices - a form of social cleansing.

"And Cornwall Council will have to find a way of squeezing money out of people who simply cannot pay. It is estimated that there will be under-collection of between 15 and 50%. That implies that the bailiffs will be knocking on the doors of at least 4000 additional homes next year. Good business for them, but terrible news for local people.

"According to Cornwall Council's own figures, this will increase council tax bills for a single parent on a low income by as much as £938.08 a year."

A final decision over the plans will be taken by Cornwall Council next month.

4:36pm 12th December 2012

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